Parenting styles around the world
Human beings do not have an inherent parenting style, we adapt and adopt our parenting styles from the environment, we are a part of. We either learn from our parents or we learn from our society.
We adopt a style which we have known for ages, what our ancestors have taught us and how things have been practiced with some changes being made each generation. There are certain universals when it comes to raising kids like a child needs enough food, sleep and nurturing to thrive but how we as parents meet those necessities depends on where we live.
Parenting styles differ greatly around the world. The world is a beautiful place. It offers a culmination of cultures, value systems, beliefs and ideologies of over 7 billion people. I think it’s amazing how wonderfully each of these cultures coexist and offer so much value to one another.
Today’s internet age has made the process of learning across boundaries are easy and enriching. Being a mother from India, there’s a lot that I have learned about parents and their parenting styles across various continents. There are certain parenting nuances and approaches that are exclusive to different countries given their social, religious and economic factors. Bringing you insights, experiences and incidents of parenting styles across the globe and what can we adapt or learn from them in the next couple of articles.
The world celebrated international women’s day last week. Each year this day so many events are organized around the world with majority of them urging the societies to practice ‘Gender Equality’ and one nation that has shown this in action and has paved way for other nations to accelerate their battle for gender equality is this small Nordic nation, Finland.
The global gender gap report rated Finland the second most equal country in the world in 2016, and the Economist recently rated it the third best to be a working mom. It’s the only country in the developed world where fathers spend more time with school aged children than mothers.
How did Finland get there? And what can the rest of us learn from this small Nordic nation. It’s a story of collective action and political will, of a strong tradition of social democracy and an accommodating tax system. But it also boils down to a key difference in how Finland frames the conversation: it’s not about what’s good for adults – it’s about what’s good for children.
“This is not a question of gender equality, but it’s more a question of the rights of the child,” says Annika Saarikko, Finland’s minister of family affairs and social services, one of six female ministers out of a cabinet of eleven. “This is not about the mother’s right or the father’s right – but the child’s right to spend time with both parents.”
Finland believes fathers play a crucial role in child development. The government offers fathers nine weeks of paternity leave, during which they are paid 70% of their salary. And to encourage fathers to take advantage of the benefit, it recently launched a new campaign – with flyers showing a burly construction worker joyfully pushing a pram – called “It’s Daddy’s time!” Mothers in Finland are to an extent liberated from the constraints of motherhood due to their supportive policies. Fathers usually stay back home to take care of the child during early childhood and mother’s quickly resume work unlike the vice versa in most of the countries including in India.
Finnish parents believe in keeping the childhood stress free for kids, you rarely find the “Tiger mom or tiger Dads” in Finland unlike some of the countries especially here where as the child grows the parent becomes more of a trainer than a parent. This means that parents wanting a rigorous, elite education are in the minority, especially as most Finnish are also opposed to the ranking of schools at the primary level. That said, teachers are trained to work with children who are either more advanced or need special help, so all children will likely receive the education best suited for them. In Finland, punishing children physically (corporal punishment) is against the law. For example, children must not be hit or pulled by the hair. Children are encouraged to independent thinking. A child is allowed, for example, to disagree with his or her parents. Young people in Finland usually move away from home after coming of age when they begin studying or find a job. It is common for them to live either alone or with student friends before starting a family.
Another interesting fact about Finnish parents is they let their babies sleep outside in sub-zero temperature. It is observed that the Finnish mom and dad leave their baby strollers outside the shopping mall, movie theatres etc. to let their babies sleep outside. The Finns believe (yes, all of them) that napping outside in the cold weather is good for boosting the baby’s immune system and helps them sleep more soundly, both of which are inherently tied together. Now this is something beyond imagination for all of us here where we wrap our kids with blankets, the moment the temperature drops from the usual.
Can India become like Finland? Can we adopt these styles? Well, India has many hurdles to cross. The first is scale, which almost makes competition a tool for survival. The resources and opportunities are a hard battle to circumvent. The range of learning to be designed is vast – across regions we cannot seek and cultivate homogenization like they have. But certainly there are good things that we can adapt or learn from them like keeping the childhood stress free for our children, not being a trainer for our kids, let them have a happy childhood and most important of all fathers playing a crucial role in parenting and sharing the parenting load as much as that of the mother.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)